Smoking and Orthopaedics

Did you know that when you smoke that you are inhaling over 60 different carcinogens and 5000 chemical agents? Your lungs are being filled similar chemicals that are found in lighter fluid, batteries, insecticide, and toilet bowl cleaner, rocket fuel, poison, sewer gas, industrial solvents and paint. These chemicals include: butane, cadmium, hexamine, toluene, nicotine, ammonia, methanol, arsenic, methane and nicotine just to name a few.

Cigarette smoking is very detrimental if you have an orthopaedic condition in addition to causing orthopaedic injuries and conditions such as rotator cuff tears, delay in bone healing and post-surgery wound problems, just to name a few.

A person that smokes has a higher risk of developing a rotator cuff tear than a nonsmoker, according to Dr. Galatz and Dr. Yamaguchi, who are leading shoulder surgeons and researchers at Washington University. Their research found that smoking increased the risk of rotator cuff tears and it was dose and time related. Meaning the more and longer you smoke the higher the risk of tearing the rotator cuff. Their study was published in the Journal of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research in 2010.

Cigarette smoking delays broken bones from mending and causes wound healing problems after surgery.  Healing a broken bone can take up to 2 months longer to heal if you are a smoker therefore it can double or triple the healing time of a fractured bone.  A study from the Northwestern University Medical School found that fractures involving the wrist in smokers took over 2 months longer to heal in smokers when compared to a group of nonsmokers.

Delay in wound healing and wound complications are twice as likely to occur in smokers versus nonsmokers according to Dr. Ann Moller, et al, in an article published in,The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. The researchers noted that smoking is an important risk factor for the development of serious complications that occur after surgery. In their study they found that smoking increased heart and lung complications to the point that smokers needed treatment in the intensive care unit more often than nonsmokers. According to Dr. David Warner, director of the Anesthesia Clinical Research Unit at the Mayo Clinic, “Smoking is the most costly and most preventable risk factor in postoperative surgical complications”.

Woman are more vulnerable to nicotine addiction , experience greater negative effects from smoking and find it more difficult to quit than men according to Dr. Glenn Rechtrine, which was recently published in American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Now, March , 2012 issue. It was also noted that Nicotine is the most addictive substance known to humans per Dr. Nam Vo, PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to all the orthopaedic negative issues related to smoking it has also been noted that smokers live on average 14 years less than nonsmokers according to the Morbidity and Mortality Monthly Report published in 2002.

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